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Vocation Story of Sister Irene

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We were 5 children growing up in a Catholic family. During my school years I was educated by Notre Dame Sisters. Getting to know them, my wishes were to be just like them, but as the years went on, my mother became ill and I was taking care of my four younger siblings.

Then God intervened in a way we did not expect. My mother passed away and a few years later my father remarried. That was when I felt the call to religious life again. Through a friend, I was asked if I would like to work in a small hospital, that was staffed by the Sisters of St. Rita. I really had to decide, since we had two religious communities in my home town. Both communities were instrumental in my life; one all through my school years; the others were visiting nurses and had attended my mother during her illness. However neither community appealed to me. My goal was to become a nurse, so I took the position in the hospital. I knew the moment I stepped into the hospital: "This is the place for me, this is my calling." The Sisters were friendly and taught me what I had to know about my duties in the hospital.

I had a visit with the superior of the house to tour our Motherhouse and speak to the Mother General. From then on I was convinced I had a calling to religious life. A few months later I entered the community of the Sisters of St. Rita, later receiving the habit, and to this day I have never regretted it.

The years of training went by quickly, although not without struggles! But when the day of my profession arrived, I was very happy and ready.

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Over the years I was in many places working with my training as a Home Economist. No, my goal to become a nurse never became a reality; my superiors so other good qualities and directed me toward Home Economy.

Following the three vows were never a problem for me. I gave myself to God wholeheartedly, read spiritual books on St. Augustine, St. Rita, the Bible and others. The daily prayers are part of my life, especially the Rosary.

Now for 37 years I have lived in Racine in a small but devoted community. My ministry is to take care of the elderly in our Home at St. Monica's. The job here fills my life, and our Residents and employees are appreciative and that is all I need to keep the founding goal of our community; to be helpful to the family.

Sr. Irene Hanika, O.S.A.